CineAsia: Piracy by Camcording Climbs in India, China, Philippines

Despite efforts to increase security in cinemas and educate staff, piracy by digital recording is on the rise in key markets in Asia, according to the Motion Picture Association.

HONG KONG – Piracy by camcording has flared up in India, China and the Philippines in 2013, said Frank Rittman, the Motion Picture Association's senior vice president, deputy managing director & regional policy officer in Asia Pacific, at the CineAsia seminar titled “Protecting Screen Content in Cinemas and Online.”

Camcording is the practice of digitally capturing movies in a theater and distributing them online or via hard copy.

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Rittman said the MPA has observed growth in camcording in China, where there is no explicit anti-camcording law. There has also been an increase in sophistication in international distribution from China, he said.

In the Philippines, Rittman said there have been strong efforts by major exhibitors to bring the number of camcording incidents down by tightening security in cinemas. An anti-camcording law was also passed in 2010. Nonetheless, the territory has seen an increase in camcording, proving that the underlying problems still remain.

In India, there were 67 incidents of camcording recorded in 2012. A push for an anti-camcording law and training activities for law enforcement is currently underway. 

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Online threats also exist in what the MPA termed "rogue websites." On these sites that distribute pirated contents, 90 percent is said to be obtained by camcording in the movie theaters. The sites typically feature links on P2P networks, and earn their revenue from advertising or member subscriptions.

The ways to deal with the online threats depends on the nature of the site. If it is a local site, law enforcement can target individual operatives," said Rittman. "Even in just a few cases, it can change the landscape and raise the stakes considerably, and makes our job of shutting them down much easier." 

In other jurisdictions, domain name seizures are common -- an approach that has been against top torrent site, Pirate Bay. This strategy is particularly effective if the site has brand name recognition. Other technical solutions include site blocking, but this depends on high degree of local cooperation.